The failure of the United Nations Security Council to reach an agreement on a resolution against the ongoing violence in Syria
has emboldened the Syrian government in its deadly crackdown on
opposition activists, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
Russia and China on Feb. 4 vetoed a European-Arab drafted resolution condemning the Syrian government's suppression of anti-government demonstrations and endorsing an Arab League plan for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step aside.
Pillay's speech to the 193-nation assembly came after Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, backed by delegates from Iran and North Korea, tried unsuccessfully to block her from addressing UN delegations by citing procedural arguments.
Pillay spoke extensively about what she called
an assault on the restive city of Homs, where she said the Syria army
had targeted civilians using "tanks, mortars, rockets and artillery."
humanitarian situation in Homs is "deplorable," she said, adding that
"food remains scarce," and electricity is often cut off to the city's
over 800,000 residents.
said that the Syrian military was carrying out indiscriminate attacks
on civilian neighborhoods, and that residents have been "effectively
trapped in areas under attack."
The "civilian army has shelled
densely populated neighborhoods in Homs,"' she said. More than 300 people
have been killed in the western Syrian city since the beginning of the 10-day assault,
according to Pillay.
"The majority of them were victims of the shelling," she said.
has been battling anti-government protesters - some of whom have become militant - for the past 11 months, in
an ongoing conflict that Pillay said has created a "humanitarian crisis"
Pillay said that at least 400 children have
been killed since last March, when mass protests in the southern Syrian
city of Daraa - akin to those that sprung so-called Arab Spring revolutions
in countries like Egypt and Tunisia - caused a similar eruption in Syria.
She said Assad's forces have used schools as "detention facilities, sniper posts and military bases."
Detained children have been subjected to solitary confinement, and are often put in cells with adults, she said.
across Syria have been blockaded, blocking access to water, food and
medical supplies, according to the UN human rights rapporteur.
"The failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action appears to have emboldened the Syrian government to launch an all-out assault in an effort to crush dissent with overwhelming force," Pillay told the General Assembly.